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Aaron Judge is not the MLB single-season home run king. Sorry, Roger Maris Jr.

For The Win 9/29/2022 Prince J. Grimes
© Provided by For The Win

Barry Bonds is the MLB single-season home run king.

Want to know how I know Barry Bonds is the single-season home run king? Because I checked the Major League Baseball website, and there he was, number one on the list. Barry Bonds, 73 dingers.

So why then do I hear people bestowing this title on Aaron Judge, an incredible player in his own right, but very obviously not the home run king. Last I checked, he had 61 home runs, tied at seventh with Roger Maris. And I assume you knew this already, because his pursuit of 61 was well covered. ESPN even ticked off some college football fans by interrupting their game with live coverage of Judge’s at-bats.

So imagine my surprise when I heard Roger Maris Jr. say Judge “should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ.” I almost spit out my lemonade. How did he get from 61 to 74 so fast?! But nope, never happened. I checked the MLB website again, and there was Bonds, still No. 1.

Maris Jr. was actually advocating for MLB to “look at the records and do something.” Apparently, he doesn’t think Bonds’ home run record should count due to the should-be Hall of Famers’ obvious ties to steroids. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who hold all the records between one and seven, would be wiped from the records too. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think all of those incredible seasons were aided by performance-enhancing substances, but respectfully, Maris Jr. couldn’t be more wrong.

The time for MLB to do something — if it really wanted to — was more than two decades ago. If the league didn’t want these astronomical single-season numbers, it would have tested for steroids when it had the chance. But it did want those numbers, it benefitted from those numbers, it didn’t start testing until after Bonds set the record in 2001, and now it should be stuck with those numbers for the rest of time.

That includes the all-time record of 762 home runs that Bonds holds and many of us will never live to see broken. It’s a potentially flawed record, and that’s exactly why the league should never touch it, because the history of Major League Baseball is flawed. You can’t go back and erase something because you don’t like it. It happened already. Live with it.

If you don’t want to acknowledge Bonds’ record as a fan, fine, just say you think he cheated and keep it moving. But until Judge hits 73 home runs himself, he’ll never be the MLB home run king, because as far as the record books are concerned, he’s not. He’ll have to settle for being the American League home run king. And for a league that’s been around for more than a century, that’s really not so bad.


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